Last year at the 2011 Qatar Motor Show, Volkswagen wooed the audience with its XL1 plug-in hybrid concept car, a vehicle it said would get an amazing 0.9 liters per 100 kilometers, or 260 mpg.

Now, a road-going prototype version of the gas-sipping two-seater has been spotted undergoing extensive road testing ahead of the production XL1’s debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.

As MotorAuthority details, the spy shots show a version of the XL1 which looks remarkably close to the concept car we saw last year. 

That means the same streamlined shape, upward-opening wing doors, LED headlights and narrow wheels. 

The only things missing, as far as we can tell, are the fully-enclosed, rear wheel wells.

Being spy shots, we’ve no way to confirm that the prototype XL1 has the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain found in the concept car. 

But since it looks identical to the concept, we’d like to bet it is powered by the same 0.8-liter, twin cylinder, TDI turbodiesel engine and 20 kilowatt electric motor as last year’s concept, producing a total output of 73 horsepower.

Just like the concept we saw last year, it appears that VW has worked hard to make this prototype go as far as possible on a single drop of fuel. 

It’s no surprise then that the XL1 has such a unique, almost futuristic design, complete with kammback tail and low, road-hugging stance to help it achieve a drag coefficient of just 0.186.

Of particular interest, however, is the apparent inclusion in this particular prototype of the tiny rear-view cameras we saw in the concept car. 

With a smaller surface area than traditional rear-view mirrors, this particular prototype appears to retain the futuristic camera option, although VW may face some tough regulatory arguments around the world if it the production XL1 retains them instead of the more traditional glass option. 

VW XL-1 Diesel Hybrid Concept

VW XL-1 Diesel Hybrid Concept

The XL1 is expected to enter into limited production in 2013 following its 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show premiere.

Whether it will arrive in the U.S. is another matter, however: although one VW executive has said the U.S. and China will follow Europe in getting the production XL1, another quoted the total production run as being around 100 units. 

Then there’s another problem. 

Americans aren’t known for their love of either diesel engines, two seat cars or small coupes. 

There is one thing for sure, however. The XL1 would certainly meet the EPA’s new gas mileage targets.

In fact, the fuel-sipping plug-in hybrid would beat them by an extra 200 mpg.


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